how much money do hermit crabs cost?

How Much Do Hermit Crabs Cost? Tank Setup + Monthly Expenses

Last Updated on September 4, 2023 by Joanne Harper

Since hermit crabs can live for up to 30 years, you should expect the ownership costs to be ongoing. Even still, hermit crabs are among the least expensive pets to own.

Buying each hermit crab can cost anywhere between $5 and $40.

The tank will cost from $20 to $100. To fill it, you’ll need about $10-$30 worth of quality substrate, shells, salt, heating pads, humidity controllers, and other items.

The food itself rarely costs more than $10 a month. Once you’ve paid the upfront costs of getting hermit crabs as pets, you can expect to pay $13-$31 a month.

If you round up the figures, you’ll spend $180-$420 a year on hermit crabs, which gives you the leeway of about $24-$48 to account for unexpected costs and expenses.

How Much Money Do Hermit Crabs Cost?

If you want to buy hermit crabs, there will be upfront costs and long-term expenses.

They’re inexpensive pets that don’t eat much with relatively simple care needs once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics.

However, hermit crabs should never be kept alone.

While you may see them kept in enclosures by themselves, this is unkind to these social and curious creatures. Instead, keep several hermit crabs in the same tank.

Your expenses will rise, but keeping 3-5 hermit crabs won’t increase the costs by much. That’s because the expense remains the same for 1 hermit crab or 5 hermit crabs when it comes to the following:

  • Housing.
  • Supplies.
  • Climate control.
  • Water dechlorinators.

Your budget will only need to flex a little because a greater number of hermit crabs in the colony will only require that you get more of the following:

  • Food.
  • Shells.
  • Hermit crabs themselves,

Even this should only increase the cost by $15-40. The prices can vary depending on the type of hermit crab species and where you buy them.

What Do Different Hermit Crabs Cost?

Hermit crabs aren’t expensive to buy. Some of the most popular hermit crabs include:

Hermit Crab SpeciesDescriptionPrice
Caribbean hermit crabs (Coenobita clypeatus):The purple pincher has a reddish-brown or dark-brown exoskeleton with a white or yellow underbelly. It can grow to a length of 5-7 centimeters.$5-30
Ecuadorian Hermit Crabs (Coenobita compressus):Pacific hermit crabs are found in various bright colors (yellow, dark grey, and orange) but are usually tan-colored. They can grow to 3-5 centimeters. $5-20
Strawberry hermit crabs (Coenobita perlatus):“Scarlet Reef” or “Red Tip” hermit crabs have bright red or orange-red exoskeletons, and the tips of their legs and claws are also bright red. They can reach 204 centimeters.$20-40
Ruggie hermit crabs (Coenobita rugosus):Tawny hermit crabs have a reddish-brown, hairy bodies with dark brown or black bands on their legs and claws. They’re a small species, reaching between 1.5 and 2.5 centimeters.$10-30
Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus):Okinawan blueberry hermit crabs have a dark, purplish-blue exoskeleton with reddish-brown bands on their legs and claws. They can reach 2 to 4 centimeters.$20-30
Indonesian hermit crabs (Coenobita brevimanus):Indo hermit crabs have a tan or brownish exoskeleton with a curved shape. They reach a length of 2 to 4 centimeters.$10-20
Viola hermit crabs (Coenobita violascens):Violas have a reddish-purple exoskeleton (a similar color to a grape), reaching 2 to 4 centimeters.$20-40

Before you choose a hermit crab, consider the following factors:

how much does it cost to care for a hermit crab?

Species

There are over 800 species of hermit crabs, but very few are kept as pets.

Most hermit crabs live in the ocean, but only about 12 live exclusively on land and only visit the water occasionally. There’s only 1 freshwater hermit crab, the clibanarius fonticola.

Not many species of hermit crabs are rare or endangered, but the price may increase if it’s a less commonly traded species or needs to live in a specific environment.

Where They’re From

Hermit crabs hail from all around the world, including:

  • The Caribbean.
  • South America, mostly around Ecuador.
  • The United States.
  • The Pacific Islands.
  • Eastern parts of Asia as a whole.

Pet hermit crabs may be more expensive if imported from a remote region. Likewise, the cost increases if they’re from a more isolated locale, like certain Pacific Island hermit crabs.

If you’re not particular about exotic hermit crabs, many are common pets and have an abundant population, found easily in pet stores.

For example, the Caribbean hermit crab and the Ecuadorian hermit crab are the most popular pet hermit crabs, available for as little as $5.

Size

This will be the deciding factor in the cost of hermit crabs. The smaller they are, the more cheaply they’re sold. They eat less, require smaller enclosures, and don’t need large, expensive shells.

You may enjoy the aesthetics and personality of larger hermit crabs. However, the small varieties are ideal if you want a colony of hermit crabs and don’t want a larger tank.

Number You Buy

Some pet stores sell hermit crabs in bulk, which can get you a discount.

For example, land-dwelling blueberry hermit crabs cost around $25. However, buying a dozen in bulk costs $240 or around $20 each. This is usually the case at chain pet stores like Petco.

Choose your vendor wisely, staying away from pet stores that don’t take good care of their hermit crabs. This will be most obvious when they’re overcrowded in a small tank.

Likewise, watch out for hermit crabs with painted shells, as the paint can poison them. Even if it seems fun to own a bedazzled hermit crab, the glue can be extremely harmful.

How Much Money Does A Hermit Crab Tank Cost?

The tank will likely be the most expensive part of owning hermit crabs. Generally, you can expect a hermit crab tank to cost anywhere up to $35.

Of course, this price varies based on the following factors:

  • Hermit crab size.
  • Colony size.
  • Decorations.
  • Substrate depth.

A 30-gallon tank is ideal for 3-5 hermit crabs, but a 10-gallon tank will only accommodate 1-2 hermit crabs. The tank doesn’t need to be very tall, but it should leave room for 3-4 inches of sand.

Hermit crabs use this to burrow when they feel crowded, threatened, or need to molt. Some will also rest under the substrate to sleep during the day, as they’re nocturnal animals.

Bigger and better-quality tanks can cost up to $100. However, spending that much is unnecessary, as glass, acrylic, or plastic are all good options. Get a lid for the tank, as it’ll be necessary to:

  • Maintain the temperature and humidity level needed for hermit crabs.
  • Prevent dust, bugs, or even sprayed air fresheners from entering the tank.
  • Keep interested children or pets from bothering them.

How Much Does It Cost To Set Up A Hermit Crab Tank?

A tank shouldn’t be empty with only hermit crabs, as they require a substrate, heating pad, water/food dishes, climbing apparatus, and alternative shells.

You can buy decorations and plants to keep them happy, but these are optional. In general, those two electives cost $1-$40 apiece.

Substrate

Your tank should be filled with sand. Owners may use other substrates, but sand will replicate a hermit crab’s natural habitat and make it feel at home.

Sand helps hermit crabs modify their body temperature, molt, and burrow when frightened.

Playground and aquarium sand can work. Opt for larger grains, as fine sand can get stuck in a hermit crab’s shell, leading to irritation.

Substrates cost between $2.50 and $36, depending on the kind you choose.

Shells

Hermit crabs change shells many times throughout their lives. According to the Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, hermit crabs do so easily because they’re not physically attached to the shell.

As they grow, this shell swap is necessary because they’ll no longer fit in their previous shells.

It’s also one of their most intriguing habits, and they enjoy choosing their new homes. For this reason, provide hermit crabs with various shells to choose from.

Although you can look for new shells at the beach, risks are involved.

Most owners prefer to buy them at pet stores or online. Costs usually range from $2.99 to $4.99. You can even buy a small collection, lowering the overall expense.

According to the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, hermit crabs look for specific traits when deciding if a shell is right. If you only give them one, they may not like it.

Food and Water Dish

A puddle in the sand and food loosely spread across the tank won’t suffice. Food and water dishes will ensure the hermit crabs have easy access.

If you want a unique style that fits the tank setting, food dishes will be about $15.99. Meanwhile, a water dish should be cheaper at around $7.

That said, you can use any small bowl or plate for either. Ensure the hermit crabs won’t struggle to access the food and water inside.

Water

If you want water for hermit crabs to drink or play in, you’ll need the following:

  • Add the correct amount of ocean salt (not table salt).
  • Dechlorinated water so that it’s safe for them to drink.

A dechlorinator is a one-time purchase of $3.50 to $70, depending on the model. For the salt, 10 gallons of aquarium-standard salt is usually around $11-$12, which should last about 4 months.

Humidity

If you have land-dwelling hermit crabs, they’ll need 70-80% humidity to remain healthy and happy.

You may need to carefully balance the tank’s heat and water levels. To test this, buy a humidity gauge, which costs around $5-$10.

Depending on the brand, you can get a misting system or fogger, costing $11-50. Some offer more precise control, while others get the job done and require more upkeep. 

Heating Pads

If you live somewhere cold, you’ll need a heating pad, as hermit crabs are ectotherms. This may also be necessary to help maintain optimal humidity levels. Heating mats usually cost about $15-$20.

How Much Does Hermit Crab Food Cost?

Hermit crabs don’t eat much, and their diet is uncomplicated.

Hermit crabs should be fed vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit. For fresh food, the cost depends on where you shop and what’s in season, but the options include:

  • Spinach.
  • Carrots.
  • Lettuce.
  • Mangos.
  • Apples.
  • Coconut.
  • Papaya.
  • Pecans.
  • Peanuts.
  • Pumpkin seeds.
  • Sunflower seeds.

The initial food won’t cost more than $10-$20. Once you’re stocked up, it’s cheaper to replenish the food as you go. As mentioned, the appetite of hermit crabs is small, so long-term costs won’t be high.

Hermit Crab Monthly Cost

Aside from the initial cost of buying, supplying, and feeding hermit crabs, you must consider recurring costs. Here’s what you can expect to pay month-on-month as a hermit crab owner:

Food Cost

Purchasing a dechlorinator makes water costs almost non-existent. Food for hermit crabs shouldn’t cost more than $10 per month.

Many fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds could already be found in the kitchen. Sharing a few pieces with your hermit crabs may go virtually unnoticed, price-wise.

Hermit crabs enjoy odds and ends, like strawberry tops, bits of lettuce, and the chopped-off ends of tomatoes. You can also buy whatever produce is on sale, as they don’t need a specific food ratio.

Tank Cost

The tank, decorations, plants, dechlorinator, and water or food bowls won’t need replacing monthly.

However, once every 30-60 days (depending on the number of hermit crabs you own), you should replace the substrate. This will cost up to $2.50 or $36 at each purchase.

Buy additional salt for the hermit crabs’ water on a more infrequent basis. As mentioned, this should cost around $11-$12 every 4 months.

how much does hermit crab food cost?

Total Cost

If you add all these costs together, you’ll pay $13-$31. This number depends on the following:

  • Price of fresh food.
  • Amount of salt you buy.
  • High-grade substrate.

If you purchase some items in bulk, take advantage of sales, or use items on hand, this can be reduced further.

There could be one-off purchases like a new light bulb for the tank, adding another $3-5 every few months, but it’ll be hardly noticeable month-to-month.

How Much Does A Hermit Crab Cost Per Year?

Hermit crabs have impressive lifespans for their size, living up to 30 years.

This largely depends on how well they’re cared for and how well-designed their environment is. You’ll need to account for long-term costs, especially if you want to be a good owner.

As we calculated above, hermit crabs are likely to cost between $15 and $35 per month. If you multiply that by 12 months, you’ll spend $180-$420 annually on hermit crabs.

Of course, you may also need to buy a new tank if it gets damaged or broken. Since rounding up the costs gives you breathing room of $24-$48, that may account for this expense.

Hermit crab ownership is unlikely to cost you more than $500 annually. 

How Much Does It Cost To Care for A Hermit Crab?

Hermit crabs are one of the least costly pets you can own. Based on the information above, let’s look at the costs you can expect when getting a hermit crab as a pet:

 UpfrontOngoing
Hermit Crab$5-$40None
Food and Treats$10-$20$10 per month
Tank and Lid$15-$40None
Tank Supplies (substrate, water dish, shells, salt, dechlorinator, etc.)Around $60-$100$15-$40 per month

Hermit crabs make low-cost, low-maintenance pets. They’re ideal for people who want interesting pets that keep them company but won’t be too demanding on your time and budget.